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sacred and perfect things, either of religion or go vernment, can escape the sting of envy, methinks I already hear these carpers objecting to the clearness of our hero's title.
'It would never,' say they, ‘have been esteemed sufficient to make a hero for the liad or Æneis; that Achilles was brave enough to overturn one empire, or Æneas pious enough to raise another, had they not been goddess born, and princes bred. What then did this author mean, by erecting a player instead of one of his patrons (a person, “never a hero even on the stage,”!) to this dignity of colleague in the empire of dulness, and achiever of a work that neither old Omar, Attila, nor John of Leyden could entirely bring to pass ?'
To all this we have, as we conceive, a sufficient answer from the Romin historian, fabrum esse sue quemque fortunæ : 'that every man is the smith of his own fortune.' The politic Florentine, Nicholas Machiavel, goeth still further, and affirmeth that a man necdeth but to believe himself a hero to be one of the worthiest. 'Let hiin,' saith he, ‘but fancy himself capable of the highest things, and he will of course be able to achieve them.' From this principle it follows, That nothing can exceed our hero's prowcss, as nothing ever equalled the greatness of his conceptions. Hear how he constantly paragons himself; at one time to Alexander the Great and Charles XII. of Sweden, for the excess and delicacy of his am. bilion;? to Henry IV. of France, for honest policy;8 in the first Brutus, for love of liberty ;+ and to sir Robert Walpole, for good government while in pow. er:5 at another time, to the godlike Socrates, for his diversions and amusements ;6 to Horace, Montaigne, and sir William Temple, for an elegant vanity that
maketh them for ever read and admired :' to two lord chancellors, for law, from whom, when confederate against him, at the bar, he carried away the prize of eloquence;? and, to say all in a word, to the right reverend the lord bishop of London himself, in the art of writing pastoral letters.3
Nor did his actions fall short of the sublimity of his conceit. In his early youth he met the Revolution face to face in Nottingham, at a time when his betters contented themselves with following her. It was here he got acquainted with Old Battle-array, of whom he hath made so honourable mention in one of his immortal odes. But he shone in courts as well as in camps; he was called up when the nation fell in labour of this Revolution ;5 and was a gossip at her christening, with the bishop and the ladies.6
As to his birth, it is true he pretendeth no relation either to heathen god or goddess; but, what is as good, he was descended from a maker of both.7 And that he did not pass himself on the world for a hero, as well by birth as education, was his own fault : for his lineage he bringeth into his life as an anecdote, and is sensible he had it in his power to be thought nobody's son at all:8 and what is that but coming into the world a hero?
But be it (the punctilious laws of epic poesy so requiring) that a hero of more than mortal birth must needs be had; even for this we have a remedy. We can easily derive our hero's pedigree from a goddess of no small power and authority amongst men; and legitimate and instal him after the right classical and authentic fashion : for, like as the ancient sages found a son of Mars in a mighty warrior; a son of Neptune in a skilful seaman; a son of Phæbus in a harmonious poet; so have we here, if need be, a son of Fortune
1 See Life, p. 425. 2 5 p. 57. 6 p. 58, 59.
436, 437. 3 p. 52. 4 p. 47 7 A statuary. 8 Life, p. 6
in an artful gamester. And who fitter than the off spring of Chance, to assist in restoring the empire of Night and Chaos ?
There is, in truth, another objection of greater weight, namely, “That this hero still existeth, and hath not yet finished his earthly course For if Solon said well,
ultima semper Expectanda dies hoinini: dicique beatus
Ante obitum nemo supremaque funera debet ! f no man be called happy till his death, surely much less can any one, till then, be pronounced a hero: this species of men being far more subject than others to the caprices of fortune and humour.' But to this also we have an answer, that will (we hupe) be deemed decisive. It cometh from himself; who, to cut this matter short, hath solemnly protested that he will never change or amend.
With regard to his vanity, he declareth that nothing shall ever part them. “Nature,' said he, ‘hath amply supplied me in vanity; a pleasure which neither the pertness of wit, nor the gravity of wisdom, will ever persuade me to part with.'! Our poet had charitably endeavoured to administer a cure to it: but he telleih us plainly, 'My superiors perhaps may be mended by him ; but for my part I own myself incorrigible. I took upon my follies as the best part of my fortune."? And with good reason; we see to what they have brought hini!
Secondly; as to buffoonery. “Is it,' saith he, 'a time of day for me to leave off these fooleries, and set up a new character? I can no more put off my follies than my skin; I have often tried, but they stick too close to me: nor am I sure my friends are dis. pleased with them, for in this light I afford them fre. quent matter of mirth, &c. &c.'? Having then se
I See Life, p. 424
? p. 19.
3 p. 17.
publicly declared himself incorrigible, he is become dead in law (I mean the law epoperau) and devolve eth upon the poet as his property; who may take bim, and deal with him as if he had been dead as long as an old Egyptian hero : that is to say, embowel and embalm him for posterity.
Nothing, therefore we conceive) remaineth to hinder his own prophecy of himself from taking imme. diate effect. A rare felicity! and what few prophets have had the satisfaction to see, alive! Nor can we conclude better than with that extraordinary one of his, which is conceived in these oraculous words, 'my dulness will find somebody to do it right." Tandem Phæbus adest, morsusque inierre parantem Congelat, et patulos, ut erant, indurat hiatus.'2
BY AUTHORITY. By virtue of the authority in us vested by the act for subjecting poets to the power of a licenser, we have revised this piece ; where, finding the style and appe lation of King to have been given to a certain pretender, pseudo-poet, or phantom, of the name of Tibbald ; and apprehending the same may be deemed in some sort a reflection on majesty, or at least an insult on that legal authority which has bestowed on another person the crown of poesy :
We have ordered the said pretender, pseudo-poet, or phantom, utterly to vanish and evaporate out of this work; and do declare the said throne of poesy from henceforth in be abdicated and vacant, unless duly and lawfully supplied by the laureate himself. And it is hereby enacted that no other person do presume io fill the
1 See Life, p. 243, 8vo. edit.
TO DR. JONATHAN SWIFT.
BOOK THE FIRST.
ARGUMENT. The proposition, the invocation, and the inscription
Then the original of the great empire of Dulness, and cause of the continuance thereof. The college of the goddess in the city, with her private academy for poets in particular: the governors of it, and the four cardi. nal virtues Then the poem hastes into the midst of things, presenting her, on the evening of a lord-mayor's day, revolving the long succession of her sons, and the glory past an:i to come. She fixes her eyes on Bays to be the instrument of that great event which is the subject of the poem. He is described pensive among his boks, giving up the cause, and apprehending the period of her empire. After debating whether to be. take himself to the church, or to gaming, or to party. writing, he raises an altar of proper books, and (mak. ing first his solemn prayer and declaration) purposes thereon to sacrifice all his unsuccessful writings. As the pile is kindled, the goddess beholding the flame from her seat, flies and puts it out, by casting upon it the poem of Thule. She forthwith reveals herself to him, transports him to her temple, unfolds her arts, and initiates him into her mysteries; then announcing the death of Eusden, the poet laureale, anoints him, carrics him to court, and proclaims him successor.
The mighty mother, and her son, who brings
REMARKS The Dunciad, sic MS.] It may well be disputed whether this be a right reading. Ought it not rather be spelled Duncejad, ils the etymology evidently demande' Dunce VOL. II.